Enter this forest; and while you relax in it, you will enjoy two thousand delights. The Early Modern Sylva in the Context of the Theatrum
Michael Gordian

1. Introduction
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„Quid Sylva est, nisi vasta solitudo? Mundi horror? Statio ferarum? Asylum Turpe mortis?“ (Pinelli, in: Peri, sig. B1r)

Taking this question posed by the Venetian author Giacomo Peri as a starting point, I shall attempt in this essay to shed some light on a corpus of early modern texts which, in some respects, remains largely neglected. Recent scholarship has given only limited attention on early modern sylvae, that is, literary forests and Wolfgang Adam’s study is still remaining the only comprehensive analysis of this genre (Adam 1988). Yet, despite his thorough research in major German libraries, Adam omitted a considerable number of sylvae, for the most written in prose. It is not my intention to provide a complete synoptic overview of the sylva, given its manifold literary, semantic and metaphoric implications and its close links to other early modern genres and texts. Instead, my aim is to investigate whether the corpus of texts entitled sylva (including the vernacular equivalent silva/selva) can be treated as a clearly defined and distinct literary genre. The use and adoption of specific titles – whether sylva or theatrum – during this period in many ways defies clear categorization.

In the following pages, I shall focus on literary forests in prose, leaving aside the genre of poetic sylvae and casualcarmina in the tradition of Statius and his Neo-Latin emulators, above all the renowned Italian poet and humanist Angelo Poliziano (Adam 1988, pp. 31-220). I shall exclude Francis Bacon’s famous sylva sylvarum (1627), a idiosyncratic text and an intriguing literary and philosophical-scientific project, which deserves a separate discussion, nor will I consider the sylva as a genre of scientific writing in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England (de Bruyn). Furthermore, I shall not take into account the largely unknown literary genre of the sylva rerum, a multi-generational chronicle, compiled by Polish noble families from roughly the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Beyond the numerous creations of poetic sylvae which flourished in the early modern republic of letters and Bacon’s innovative literary experiment, there are numerous works bearing the same title which have largely gone unnoticed. It is noteworthy that a significant number of these texts were written in Spain. Leaving aside other vernacular strands of literary forests, I shall briefly present some of these Iberian texts, placing them in the context of the numerous Latin prose sylvae and also of the literary theatrum.

By describing some central features and characteristics of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sylvae, I hope to fill, at least in part, a lacuna in recent scholarship on early modern literature and culture. My analysis, however, will also contribute to our understanding of the genre of the theatrum, which was immensely popular and widely disseminated during this period and which forms the main subject of this volume and scholarly project. As I shall try to demonstrate in this article, a study of literary forests in connection with theatra can offer us a new perspective on both sets of texts.

2. The Spanish Tradition
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In 1540 the „sapientissimo“ Sevillan humanist and „caballero notorio“ (Pacheco, pp. 187-188) Pedro Mexía published his Silva de varia lección. Destined to become one of the most successful Spanish works of the sixteenth century, this vernacular literary forest enjoyed over thirty editions and numerous translations (Castro, pp. 52-59). Offering a kaleidoscopic panorama of disparate fields of knowledge, this miscellany responded to the humanist educational ideal of Mexía’s time. More importantly for our analysis, he presented the ninety chapters of his colourful humanist compendium in a seemingly arbitrary and chaotic order, maintaining this unstructured arrangement throughout the book. In composing his silva, Mexía both tried to give shape to a new literary format and to position himself in a tradition of miscellaneous writing dating back to antiquity (Mexía, p. 162).

In the preface, he emphasizes the non-hierarchical and seemingly disordered organization of the work and the enormous variety of the material. Yet, at the same time, Mexía’s statements show that he gave serious consideration to the final form of the text and that he made a conscious choice to use this particular literary form: „Escogí, assi, esta manera de escrivir por capítulos sin orden y sin perservar en un propósito, a ymitación de grandes autores antiguos que escrivieron libros de esta manera.“ (Ibid, p. 160) He even notes how much time and effort it had cost him to write and order his text in this way: „Quánto studio y trabajo me aya costado escrivir y ordenar esta obra y quántos libros me fue necessatio leer y ver para ello, esto remito yo al discreto y benigno lector porque a mí no está bien encarescerlo.“ (ibid., p. 164) His Silva is therefore far from an unsystematic work, arbitrarily thrown together. Rather, its ordo neglectus is based on a carefully devised literary programme with a clear didactic purpose and a focus on the interests of a wide readership (ibid., pp. 160-161).

Mexía’s Silva was the first Spanish vernacular literary forest to be printed. The virtually unknown Silva palentina, written by Alonso Fernandez de Madrid, also called ‚arcediano del Alcor‘, an interesting figure in the intellectual community at the centre of the powerful Spanish current of Erasmian thought, has never been published. The earliest extant manuscript of the Silva palentina is conserved in the Escorial and dates from around 1537 (Arroyo). Mexía seems to have been unaware of this work.

Among the many other silvas were, for example, Julián de Medrano’s La Silva curiosa (1583), a collection of light-hearted love poems and courtly narrations which were intended to adorn elegant conversation – the full title is La silva curiosa, en que se tratan diversas cosas sotilissimas, y curiosas, muy convenientes para Damas, y Cavalleros, en toda conversation virtuosa y honesta – and Hieronymus Campo’s Silva de varias questiones naturales y morales (1575), a scholarly and technical work providing dialectical training in the tradition of Aristotelian quaestiones or problemata (Blair, pp. 171-204; Carré, p. 156). Another noteworthy work is Enríquez de Valderrábano’s Libro de Musica de Vihuela, intitulado silva de sirenas (1547), the only musical literary forest, which offers a collection of 169 songs and musical notes for the vihuela, the famous Spanish guitar-like instrument; it reappeared in a modified form in Venice at the end of the sixteenth century, printed by Orazio Vecchi under the title Selva di varia ricreatione (1590). Also of interest is the anonymously published, and now largely forgotten Silva de varias romances (1550). It comprises a group of Castilian chivalric, biblical, mythological and other romances, reminiscent of those in the better known Cancionero de romances (1550), another collection of Castilian romances published in Antwerp by Martin Nucio (Díaz-Mas, p. 121).

This brief foray into the ‚sylvan‘ territory of sixteenth-century Spanish literature is primarily an attempt to show that the literary form and arrangement of these silvas were characterized by discontinuity and heterogeneity, challenging initial assumptions of a coherent genre. Some authors seem to have continued Mexía’s literary programme, yet without explicitly referring to him or his work; notably, Medrano and Valderrábano preserved the unstructured arrangement of his material, following the metaphor of wild growth of trees in a forest. Other authors, however, departed from this literary agenda. The Silva de varias romances, although resembling the Silva de vihuela in thematic scope (Díaz-Mas, p. 119), betrays an ordered presentation of its content. Campo, meanwhile, retained the traditional question-and-answer-format in his dialectical exercise, similar to most, if not all, works of Aristotelian quaestiones or problemata. Here, the Silva clearly functions merely as a label, lacking any specific literary aims, or even any obvious semantic connotations, which might shape the text in a significant manner.

These silvas do not constitute a uniform and coherent genre. At best, we might categorize them as miscellaneous texts composed in an open literary format, without adhering to a strict hierarchical organization of their material. They juxtapose entertaining and light passages with more serious and demanding ones, as famously formulated in the Horatian dictum of prodesse aut delectare (Ars poetica, p. 333). This also becomes clear as the metaphor of the forest merges organically with that of a garden, meadow or grove: jardin, prado or floresta. These titles are based on similar metaphorical implications jointly signalling a pleasant and entertaining arrangement.

This association of a literary locus amoenus manifests itself vividly in an opening poem to Medrano’s Silva in which readers are invited to „enter this forest and, relaxing, enjoy the myriad of marvels“ and to „pick different flowers“, forgetting about „hardship and pain.“ („Al lector, otra Octava/ Los que caçáis por el monte de Amores,/ Curiosas invenciones dessenado, Entrad en esta Silva, y descansando/ En ella gustaréis dos mil primores./ En ella cogeréis diversas flores,/ Si andar queréis en ella passeado,/ Y en ella vuestros males encantando/ Olvidaréis trabajos y dolores“, De Medrano, p. 84) Spanish examples of such texts include Juan Basilio Santoro’s Prado espiritual (1578) and Pedro de Padilla’s Jardin espiritual (1585), both of which are devotional and recreational treatises, and Melchior de Santa Cruz’s Floresta Española de Apogthemas, o sentencias, sabia o graciosamente dichas (1598). This metaphoric link is significant, as I shall argue at later on.

The intertwining of ‚high‘ and ‚low‘ subjects is, above all, a means of pleasing readers and maintaining their interest in the text. Valderrábano’s preface to his silva vividly illustrates this concern: „I chose to include many different things, selecting from the most serious and approved musicians those which are most beneficial and pleasant for the vihuela […] and its admirers. And while dwelling on one thing tends to create weariness and annoyance, variety and brevity are almost always pleasant.“ („Escogi esta manera de poner muchas cosas diferentes, colligiendo de muy graves y aprouados musicos lo mas provechoso y apazible para la vihuela, y lo mas dulce y sabroso para buenos oydos, y afficionados della, ansi por que perservar en vna cosa suele engendrar ligeramente fastidio, como por que la variedad y brevedad suele ser siempre agradable“, Valderrábano, sig. A3r-v) Here, the metaphor of the literary forest denotes a pleasant variety and diversity, not the mundi horror and statio ferarum conjured up in the introductory quotation from one of the carmina in praise of Peri and his Selva di sentenze.

One text, however – the last Spanish prose silva known to me – does not adhere to the notion of a pleasant literary forest, calling into question again the rather tenuous common denominator of earlier Spanish silvas. It is Fray Antonio Alvarez’s sylva spiritual (1597), a theological treatise, steeped in the values of the Catholic Reformation and dedicated to spiritual guidance and the teaching of true Christian doctrine. This work entirely lacks the formal and structural characteristics of Spanish silvas described above. The preface, however, explains the reason for which the author had nonetheless chosen the suggestive title silva:

„Since to persist in sin is such a grave condition, the Lord considers this as serious as the sin itself. For this reason, when He indicted his ancient people of the most grave sin of idolatry, to which they were so inclined, He likewise indicted the delightful forests and pleasant gardens which the people had planted in order to maintain that sin and had established in the surroundings of their temples and altars. Although this [planting of forests] was not in itself an act of idolatry, it had the effect of increasing the risk and the spread of idolatry so that it might grow.“ („Es pues tan grave caço hazer sustento al peccado que lo estima el Señor en tanto como al mismo peccado. De adonde es, que quando el hazia cargo a su antiquo pueblo de aquel gravissimo de idolatria a qu el era tan inclinado, yqualmente en el mismo grado se le hazia tambien de los deleytosos bosques, y amenos jardines que para sustento della plantavan, y edificavan en contorno, de sus templos, y Altares. Porque aunque esto no era idolatrar, pero era en effecto hazer riesgos y crecimientos a la idolatria para que ella cresiesse“, Alvarez, sig. Iiijv)

This notion of a sinful forest can also be found in two widely disseminated early modern Latin sylvae published earlier in the century. One of these states that „We dedicate the sacred forest, not the grove consecrated to the idols of pagans“ („Nos sacram silvam, non lucum gentium idolis consecratum dedicamus“, Althamer, sig. A2v) while the other declares that „to plant a grove in front of an altar is to introduce heresy into the Church, and to cut down the groves [of the pagans] is to destroy heresy and idolatry“ („Et lucum ante altare plantare, est heareses in Ecclesiam inducere. Et lucos scindere, est haereses et idololatriam destruere“, Lauretus, sig. A2r).

3. The Latin tradition
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The sixteenth century was the heyday of Spanish silvas. Although prose literary forests declined in popularity in the following century, they did not die out: a considerable number of Latin sylvae continued to be printed, many of them in the Neo-Latin Republic of Letters which flourished north of the Alps. The authors of these texts, however, embarked on a new literary path. Despite having a similar title, these works differed considerably from Spanish silvas (including the Sylva spiritual) and, more generally, from other miscellanies in structure, scope and aspiration. The only two Latin sylvae sharing some structural and thematic characteristics with vernacular miscellanies are Gilbert Cousin’s Sylva narrationum (1548) and Alessandro Manebras Moralis sylva (1600). The full title of the 1567 edition of Cousin’s work highlights its variety, describing it as „a forest of stories, which contains a great variety of things, pleasant and useful to know“ („Narrationum sylva qua magna rerum, partim a casu fortunaque, partim a divina humanaque, mente, evenientium, scitu iucundarum et utilium, varietas continetur“).

The range and diversity of topics was quite large, including Jacob Meelbaum’s historical-antiquarian Sylva academica, sive de antiquitate urbis et academiae Trevirorum discursus (1657), Gimma Giacinto’s Sylva rerum notablium, Johannes Fungerus’ collection of epitaphs and epigrams entitled Sylva Carminum (1585) and the notoriously misogynist law treatise on marriage, the Sylva nuptialis (1518) by Giovanni Nevizzano. These works are storehouses of material on one specific subject rather than playful and diverse collections of disparate material. There are, however, others which I have yet not been able to study, for example, Christoph Pflugius Sylva thematum epistolarum dominicalium et festorum (1611) and Joannes Hulsbusch’s Sylva sermonum iucundissimorum (1568). Judging by its title, which reads: Sylva sermonum iucundissimorum: in qua novae historiae et exempla varia facetijs undique referta continentur: omnibus itinerantibus et comessantibus cum gratissima, tum lectu lepidissima, Joannes Hulsbusch’s work seems more closely related to the notion of the sylva as indicating a pleasant and entertaining variety. Nonetheless, three fields of knowledge seem to have been particularly popular in these works: theology, medicine and lexical compilations.

Two of the works on scriptural studies have already been mentioned in connection with the Sylva spiritualis: the alphabetically organized compendium Silva biblicorum nominum (1530), composed by the German humanist and Protestant reformer Andreas Althamer (ca. 1500-1539). It is a repository of Biblical loci, geographical locations and figures as an aid to the study of Scripture (Kolde, pp. 62-64; Adam 1988, pp. 233-237). In 1570 the Benedictine Jerónimo Lloret (before 1507-1571) – better known as Hieronymus Lauretus – published his monumental Sylva allegoriarum totius Sacræ Scripturæ. This important work of early modern allegorical exegesis of the Bible enjoyed great success, appearing in numerous editions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Dominican scholar and preacher Luis de Granada’s (1505-1588), renowned, above all, for his elaborate rhetorical skills, composed a compendium of common-places and phrases for preachers, entitled Sylva locorum qui frequenter in concionibus occurrere solent, first printed in Lyon in 1582 (the more widely disseminated edition published three years later in Salamanca is also known as the Sylva comminium).

In the seventeenth century Johann Heinrich Ursinus (1608-1667), an important German humanist and Lutheran theologian, composed the lengthy Silva theologiae symbolicae (1665). This erudite compendium was based on a botanical concept of the sylva, since Ursinus attempted to establish what might be called a botanical hermeneutic system by means of which specific biblical passages, including references to flora, could be interpreted in a new way. This use of botany as an exegetical tool for the study of Scripture is also the main characteristic of his Arboretum biblicum (1663) and his Continuatio historiae plantarum biblicae (1665), in which he collects information on all plants mentioned in the Bible. These works are erudite repositories of scriptural and theological knowledge which acquired popularity among members of the early modern Republic of Letters. Dealing with the conception of a virtuous Christian life, the Sylva Soliloquiorum seu Meditationum Sacrarum (1663), by the praised Danish theologian and poet Frederik Brand (1632-1691), is somewhat different in scope and literary form, since it is a didactic-instructive work, rather than a storehouse of learning. Brand, however, does not dwell on his choice of title and its possible connections to the structure and content of his text.

In 1598 the Czech scholar and lexicographer Daniel Adam z Veleslavina (1546-1599) published a voluminous polyglot dictionary under the title Sylva quadrilinguis vocabulorum. This alphabetically ordered lexicon contains around 17.000 entries, in which the classical languages of Latin and Greek are placed next to German and Czech vocabulary, including synonyms and illustrative phrases. Other lexicographers chose the same title for their dictionaries and compilations, for example, the Protestant theologian and teacher Henricus Decimator (1544-1615) with his Sylvae vocabulorum et phrasium (1595) and the Dutch scholar Simon Pelegromius (ca. 1507-1572) who compiled a list of synonyms entitled Synonymorum sylva (first printed in 1537). This work enjoyed wide popularity and was modified, enlarged and reprinted various times, with four Dutch-Latin editions by 1548 and from two or three Latin-Dutch-French editions printed between 1555 and 1577. In 1580 it was transformed into a compilation of English synonyms, which had been reprinted fifteen times by 1663 (Noordegraaf, pp. 20-21). In Spain, the Valencian humanist, pedagogue and prolific author Lorenzo Palmireno (1524-1579) issued a Sylva de vocablos y phrases de moneda, medidas, comprar y vender para niños de grammática (1566) containing entries on technical Latin vocabulary on subjects such as money, measures, economic exchange and trade. None of these works offers any reflections or explanations on the choice of the title; but it seems reasonable to assume that in these cases sylva merely denotes a compilation of lexical material.

Specialised medical works included the massive Silva sententiarum ad chirurgiam pertinentium (1576), by the Spaniard Matthias Narvatius, and the Sylva medicamentorum compositorum (1617), by the Swiss physician Philipp Scherbe in 1617. Gabrielle Ferrara, about whom little is known, wrote a lengthy medical treatise entitled Sylva chirurgiae (1625). Another notable scholarly effort was Johannes Georgius Waltherus’s Sylva medica opulentissima (1679), an alphabetically arranged volume. Truly opulentissima, this work is an impressive attempt to present the entire corpus of medical literature and knowledge between two covers; and, as such, it clearly belongs to the early modern encyclopedic tradition.

The key to understanding why such heterogeneous and disparate texts went under the same general title lies in the metaphorical flexibility of the word sylva, which signifies both a forest and the raw material used to construct an edifice (Adam 1988, pp. 18, 66-68; de Bruyn, p. 347). The best known and most creative exploitation of this double meaning of the word was Francis Bacon in his Sylva sylvarum. In the case of the sylva (as well as the theatrum), the choice of title was not merely a formal literary convention nor simply a decorative enhancement of the text; the lexical connotations of the title determined the general structure of these works. Using the analytical distinction suggested by Markus Friedrich, we might say, more precisely, that the title sylva can be either ‚darstellungsbezogen‘, referring to the mode of presentation, or, it can be ‚gegenstandsbezogen‘, referring to the actual content (Friedrich, p. 207).

Although the two categories often overlapped and cannot be neatly separated from one another, we can say that the title sylva in some vernacular Spanish miscellaneous literary forests, above all Mexía’s compendium, the title silva alluded to a specific mode of presentation. Arranging the content according to the wild growth of trees in a forest, the silva was primarily based on an apparent ordo neglectus aimed at entertaining the reader. By contrast, the title of most of the Latin texts mentioned above, it refers not to the arrangement and presentation of the material, but rather the material itself. In this metaphorical shift, the sylvan connotations of the sylva were ignored in favour of the notion of a storehouse or collection of raw material.

4. The sylva and the theatrum
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Returning to medical sylvae, it does not seem too far-fetched to say that Waltherus could just as well have entitled his massive compendium Bibliotheca, on the model of Conrad Gessner’s famous universal bibliography Bibliotheca realis (1545-49). Indeed, in the same year that Waltherus published his Sylva, the German scholar Martin Lipenius (1630-1692) issued a similarly structured reference book with the title Bibliotheca realis medica (1679). Most seventeenth-century Latin sylvae, moreover, could have been called theatra. One example vividly illustrates this point: an exemplar of Scherbe’s Sylva medicamentorum compositorum, now held at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, is bound together with David Crusius’ Theatrum morborum Hermetico-Hippocraticum of 1615. It made sense to bind these two works together since they are strikingly alike in scope, structure and style – and both even have analogous synoptic tables throughout.

This interesting case perhaps allows me to put forward several tentative conclusions about both the sylva and the theatrum. It suggests that later Latin sylvae were not based on the metaphorical implications of the wild sylvan growth, as were many earlier silvas; in other words, the title did not indicate a specific mode of presentation. The only two Latin works in which sylvae alluded to a forest are the compendia of Althamer and Lauretus. Signaling copiousness and exhaustiveness, sylva began to refer to the material contained within the book, not its presentation and arrangement. Furthermore, the two titles became interchangeable, leaving modern readers with the delicate task of evaluating how far they should speculate about the metaphorical implications of the theatrum and the sylva, with regard not only to the Sylva medicamentorum compositorum and Crusius’ Theatrum morborum Hermetico-Hippocraticum, but also to numerous other works. The most we can probably say is that the title sylva indicated a storehouse of information which was not clearly defined or shaped according to a literary or philosophical concept, whether a closed and coherent ordo rerum or an ordo neglectus. It should be added that there is little which is specifically theatrical about the presentation of the material in Crusius’ Theatrum: this compilation is neither theatrically performative (i.e. ‚darstellungsbezogen‘), nor does it employ theatre-imagery in any significant way. The titles of these two works, bound together in the Wolfenbüttel exemplar, do not imply a literary format nor a mode of presentation, but rather function as a fashionable and appealing label (Friedrich, p. 206).

I seems to me that the Latin sylvae was conceptually similar to the theatrum in that both took the role of the reader into account. Readers of sylvae did not encounter a systematic presentation of knowledge. They first of all had to ‘enter’ the literary forest. Once ‘inside‘, they were meant to explore the sylvan textual space, without relying on any inherent thematic structure or stable order. Given an active role in this semantic space, readers were at liberty to select information according to their own arbitrium and gusto. Jumping from one topic to another and skipping over passages which did not catch one’s fancy became part of the intended reading experience, as would later be the case with Pierre Bayle’s Dictionnaire (Neumeister, p. 195). Mexía, in particular, promoted a self-determined role in his readers, explicitly inviting them not only to choose chapters but also to think about the various subjects. At the end of one of his chapters, for example, he insisted that „the final determination is left up to the discreet reader’s judgment“ („De un pleyto que huvo entre un discípulo y su maestro, tan subtil y dubdoso, que los juezes no supieron determinarlo; y queda la determinación al juyzio del discreto lector“, Mexía, p. 338). He repeatedly concluded chapters by referring to the reader and his arbitrium („Estos son los casos. Agora los lectores platiquen sobre ello“, and: „Destas opiniones tomará cada uno la que quisiere“, ibid., pp. 341, 691).

The metaphor of the literary theatre, by contrast, not only implied a specific manner of arranging and presenting knowledge, but also prescribes a role for the reader, which differs greatly from the experience of exploring a literary forest. In the allegory of the theatrum mundi, man is an actor, taking an active part in God’s grand drama. Sitting in front of the stage of the literary theatre, however, readers are merely passive spectators. The performance and presentation of knowledge to them may (or may not) be dynamic and theatrical, but the position they occupy as spectators remains inactive and static.

Yet, as I have attempted to show, the idea of self-determining, perhaps even emancipated reader who explore a sylvan literary arrangement was not what the authors of Latin silvae intended. They instead tried to digest, organize and present material from one particular field of learning, whether scriptural exegesis, medicine or classical scholarship, ideally in its totality. Readers, being placed in front of these repositorie of knowledge, were treated as passive recipients of the assembled material.

To sum up this discussion, I would like to suggest that in many cases a seventeenth-century compiler may have chosen freely between the metaphorical titles silva and theatrum. It is important to bear in mind that, in an age which we might say – without falling back on the problematic assumption of a zeitgeist – had a predilection for metaphors, theatrum did not have a metaphorical monopoly. The garden, which, like the sylva, denoted a pleasant semantic space of literary variety and diversity, was also an influential metaphor in the seventeenth century: „Wie das Licht als Metapher zum Kennzeichen der Aufklärung wurde, bildet der Garten, die von der Kunst domestizierte Natur, eine epochale Signatur des 17. Jahrhunderts.“ (Adam 1992, p. 11). Primarily denoting a pleasant semantic space of literary variety and diversity, the metaphor of the vernacular silva was linked with the notion of the garden, as has been noted already.

Nonetheless, the historical retrospective, however, reveals that the metaphor of the theatre was considerably more popular than that of the forest. It was destined to become the great metaphorical denominator of the early modern age (Alewyn/Sälze, p. 48; Cavaillé, pp. 2-6). Yet the flexibility and metaphorical range of the title sylva continued to make an attractive option for some seventeenth-century authors such as Jacob Meelbaum, who drew again on the notion of the sylva as a literary forest in his historical-antiquarian Sylva academica (1657), mentioned above. The „ratio sylvae“ at the beginning of the work contains a praise of the forest, comparing it with the locus amoenus of the garden: „Aequo sylva loco non curat stare, nec apto/ Ordine, nec multa sedulitate coli / Nec modo procerum, nec idem genus arboris optat,/ Qualia sunt Abies, Quercus, et altra Cedrus/ Sed vepres etiam patitur, nec spernit Ericas / Et diversa feris mixta fruteta rubis./ Ast hortus contra, siquidem quo planior, et quo cultior est, illo gratior esse solet./ Qui variis etsi quoque plantis gaudet, at apto/ Ordine nec, quidquid squalet, et horret, amat/ Sed tamen et Sylvae recreant.“ (Meelbaum 1657, sig. 1r)

The idea of a seemingly arbitrary ordo neglectus, making for a pleasant disorder, was not adopted by most authors of Latin sylvae. Instead, they presented their large collections of raw material as comprehensive compilations of knowledge, displayed, as if on a stage, to readers who have been transformed into spectators. With this change of metaphorical connotation, the Latin sylva became a theatrum in disguise.

5. Bibliography
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5.1. Primary Sources
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  • Andreas Althamer: Silva biblicorum nominum. Nuremberg 1530 [opac]
  • Fray Antonio Alvarez: Sylva Spiritual de varias consideraciones. Lisbon 1594
  • Gilbert Cousin: Narrationum sylva qua magna rerum, partim a casu fortunaque, partim a divina humanaque, mente, evenientium, scitu iucundarum et utilium, varietas continetur. Lyon 1567 [opac]
  • Joannes Hulsbusch: Sylva sermonum iucundissimorum. Basel 1568 [opac]
  • Hieronymus Lauretus: Sylva allegoriarum totius Sacræ Scripturæ. Venice 1575 [gbv]
  • Julián de Medrano: La silva curiosa de Julián de Medrano. Ed. by Mercedes Acalá Galán. New York 1988 [opac]
  • Jacob Meelbaum: Sylva academica. Luxembourg 1657 [opac]
  • Pedro Mexía: Silva de varia lección. Ed. by Antonio Castro. Madrid 1989 [gbv]
  • Francisco Pacheco: Libro de descripción de verdaderos retratos de ilustres y memorable varones. Ed. by Diego Angulo. Sevilla 1983
  • Giacomo Peri: Selva di Sentenze. Venice 1607 [opac]
  • Enríquez de Valderrábano: Silva de sirenas. Valladolid 1547

5.2. Secondary Literature
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  • Wolfgang Adam: Poetische und Kritische Wälder: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Form des Schreibens bei Gelegenheit. Heidelberg 1988 [opac]
  • Wolfang Adam: Im Garten der Palme: Kleinoden aus dem unbekannten Barock. Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft und ihre Zeit. Berlin 1992 [opac]
  • Richard Alewyn, Karl Sälze: Das große Welttheater. Die Epoche der höfischen Feste in Dokument und Deutung. Hamburg 1959 [opac]
  • Luis Antonio Arroyo: Alonso Fernandez de Mardid, arcediano del Alcor y la "silva palentina". Madrid 1993
  • Ann Blair: The problemata as Natural Philosophical Genre, in: Anthony Grafton, Nancy Siraisi (eds.): Natural particulars: Nature and the Disciplines in Renaissance Europe. Cambridge 1999, pp. 171-204 [opac]
  • Frans de Bruyn: The Classical Silva and the Generic Development of Scientific Writing in Seventeenth-Century England, in: New Literary History 32 (2001), pp. 347-351 [gbv]
  • Antònia Carré: Éxito y difusión de la literatura de Problemas en la Castilla del siglo XVI: La traducción castellana de Il perché de Girolamo Manfredi, in: Asclepio. Revista de Historia e la Medicina y de la Ciencia 58 (2006), pp. 149-195 [gbv]
  • Antonio Castro: Introduction to Pedro Mexía, in: Antonio Castro (ed.): Silva de varia lección. Madrid 1989, pp. 1-140 [gbv]
  • Jean-Pierre Cavaillé: Theatrum mundi. Notes sur la Théâtralité du monde Baroque. Florence 1987 [gbv]
  • Paloma Díaz-Mas: El Romancero, entre la tradición y la imprenta popular, pp. 115-129
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